Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's SLove got to do with it?

Some people go to Second Life for virtual sex, or even cybersex. What is the sound of one hand fapping? :) There are tons of animations for simulated sex between avatars, or even among avatars, more positions than most people have even thought about or known about in first life.

I like virtual sex in SL. No, I love virtual sex. The suggestion of intimacy can be very stimulating and satisfying, even without touching. Sex, however, is not what really gets my attention in SL.

Love does.

Love? How can avatars love? Is it simulated love, like the simulated sex? Is it just some fantasy role play?

Not for me. I form real bonds through SL. Behind every avatar is a real person, and I bond with that real person through the medium of SL and our avatars. When I tell my sweetheart I love her, or Tatsuko, or Patrice, or Cala, or Envy, I really mean it. I'm not just tossing that word around. I truly care about those people, whether I've met them in the flesh or not.

There's something about SL that facilitates such bonding for me. I form close associations through Twitter and other social networking connections. There are people I don't see in SL whom I also care about deeply. But it's at a different level in SL. Avatars aren't just pixelated images. They have an odd kind of reality of their own.

The other night, I met my sweetheart in SL after having been IMing with her. Being with her in SL was totally different than IM. I felt much more present with her, even though we were no closer in first life than we were via IM. We can talk about touching and caressing in IM, and that works on the imagination to an extent. But maybe I'm just a visual person. The suggestion is much stronger in SL. The imagination really gets into gear.

When I am holding my sweetheart in SL or she is holding me, I feel held in first life. When I am kissing her, I feel kissed. When she hurts, I hurt with her. This is only going to get stronger as the ways that avatars can express themselves get better.

In a way, my sweetheart is her beautiful avatar, and I am mine. We give full expression to our inner selves through our avatars. That little doll is important to me. She has a kind of life of her own. That was true right from the start. Of course she doesn't have independent existence, but just like a character in a novel, she behaves in a consistent, realistic manner. She behaves in a way that fits her on-going story. I cannot, or at least would not, make her do just anything. A novelist loves her characters. I love mine, and I love many of those she interacts with, characters constantly being "written" by other "novelists."

I think this love is real.

Anyone who is not in SL, maybe even some who are, will probably think I'm crazy. Do I have an overactive imagination? Or does the imagination of others need a boost?

[Addendum: the photo is of my friends Eloria and Merik. I'm not in there. :)]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Second chance

Second Life is a lot of things for me. I've given up on trying to separate immersion from augmentation. For me, SL is both immersion in fantasy and social networking with real people. I interact with real people through a virtual world in which all kinds of fantastic things are possible, not the least of which is that I can be an accomplished ballroom dancer. I dig that.

In SL, I am not solitary. I wish I could enjoy solitary time more, use it to explore or whatever, but I don't very much. I like to be with other avatars—other people. I'm not great about keeping up with all the people on my Friends list (and I've been dumped for neglect sometimes), but I keep up with quite a few. They are real friends. They're important to me.

I form deeper relationships as well. Not even two months into my second life, I formed a partnership with Patrice. Our relationship is pretty well documented in this blog, all the ups and downs, the difficult times and the more numerous wonderful times. We learned to trust each other, slowly (it's difficult in a medium where you can't really see the other person), and we shared so much of our lives with each other. In many ways, it was a second marriage for me, which worked thanks to the non-jealous patience of my wonderful first life spouse. It probably helps that my spouse doesn't much like SL and doesn't think of it as real.

Patrice and I split up a little over a year ago (I'm happy we are still friends). At first, as always after a close relationship, it was refreshingly different to be on my own. But for me, that never lasts too long. I almost formed a new partnership with someone I'll call "raven hair," whom I had long been friends with and became even closer to during the first months of my singularity. She asked. I said no. At the time, I was so busy in first life that I knew I would not have been able to give her the kind of time and attention she needed. It hurt me terribly to say no. It hurt me terribly for more than a year afterward. She met someone else, and they partnered. It was all I could do to attend the wedding. I was truly happy for her, but I was unhappy for myself. Still, I maintained a close friendship with her.

I met a darling redhead, a friend of raven hair as it turned out, and we saw each other for a short time. It didn't work. There were misunderstandings from the start. We have since become friends, but we weren't right for a romantic relationship.

Then there was the blond. OMG. I had a mad crush on her from the minute I met her. We had been friends, not close but good, since that time. She was even sort of my boss at one point, when I was doing a DJ gig. We had always enjoyed talking with each other. Last spring, she indicated that she was interested in something more. My heart lept. I moved too quickly. We had more misunderstandings, lots of them, more serious ones. We had wonderful times and terrible times. And for all that, we were never really in a relationship. That was all about trying to work things out. We are still friends, but I think it's best if that's how we leave it. I still think she is one of the most beautiful avatars in SL, and I like her very much, but we both know that there's much more to a relationship, even in SL.

I was close to writing a woe-is-me blog entry, a tale of hopeless love, but I never did. That's probably just as well. Not long ago, my poor raven hair's heart was broken. Her partnership ended in a way that was very hurtful to her. As her friend, indeed perhaps her best friend, I felt bad for her. I knew how hurt she was. She does not hold back when giving her heart. I was torn between my own selfishness and wanting only what was best for her.

I hope we have found a path that works for both of us. We have not plighted any troth, but we are seeing each other romantically. I need to give her time and space, but I wasn't about to be all noble and watch someone else zoom in and take her away. I had my own heart to think of. If I had lost her a second time, I would have been devastated. So we are together, yet going slowly. She is still healing, and I need to learn patience. I love her dearly. I have for quite a long time. And I know that she loves me. I trust her and trust her love. I need to trust more.

Many people seem to have more confidence in SL, when they express themselves through their avatars. Leave it to me to ave the opposite. I have plenty of confidence in first life. In SL, I am a silly schoolgirl. I must do better than that, both for my sake and for the sake of my raven-haired beauty.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Living free

My Second Life is still pretty low key these days, so I didn't want to bore you by writing about it here. It's not entirely gone though.

I DJ at the Velvet from 2–4 p.m. on Thursdays, which is 5–7 p.m. Eastern time, 10 p.m.–midnight in the UK, and 11 p.m.–1 a.m. in Europe. Just so you know. It's been a bit lonely on most afternoons so far, although I've had some special visitors.

After not having seen Illya for weeks, I had a nice talk with her a few days ago. We just talked, and I think we actually communicated. No pressure, no expectations. It was really nice. I hope we can meet up again soon, but my first life schedule doesn't allow that much.

None of that was worth kicking this blog into action though. Here's what is: Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds, October 25, 2008. This is an idea started by SL resident Sophrosyne Stenvaag, who helped create the Extropia sim. Here is her explanation for why she declared Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds: "The last straw came yesterday, when a friend was attacked in social media and later pilloried on a blog for the expression of her sexuality." She goes on to say that the same thing happens to many other women in SL as well as to "queers of all gender persuasions," as she puts it.

In my counselling practice (rather slow at the moment), many of my clients came to me with gender issues. SL is the perfect place to explore them. Most of the cross-gender avatars I met weren't about deception. For many, SL is the only place they can express what they feel to be their true gender. For some, SL is a way to help them decide whether they need to go further. People need this freedom to explore themselves. If not in SL, or some other virtual world, then where?

I do not approve of deception or playing with people's emotions. But that should not preclude those who do not deceive from expressing themselves in a way that they feel they must, for their own mental well-being. And I definitely do not approve of self-appointed people who feel they must "out" others.

Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds was brought to my attention by my friend Shockwave Plasma, who wrote about it in her own blog. She included links to Sophrosyne's blog as well as to an article that ran in the Metaverse Journal. I decided one more blog entry with links couldn't hurt, even if most people have given up on this mess of virtual scribbling.

October 25, Extropia sim. Spread the word! But not to haters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pictures at 11

Google Analytics tells me this blog still gets visitors every day, even though I am bad about posting new material. According to the stats, visitors stay an average of 49 seconds! This is probably plenty of time for them to figure out that my Second Life just isn't very exciting right now.

I see Illya when we can manage to be in world at the same time, at the very least on Thursday nights when she DJs at Club Your Destiny. I still go to the Velvet, where I was last night, dancing to music by DJ Therese Slade. I try to stay in touch with other friends on my list. I catch up with Anwen when she has a bit of free time. My closet could really use cleaning out, since there are so many clothes that I'm just not going to wear again, but that's not a task that anyone enjoys.

I did meet a new person! GoSpeed Racer, whose picture you see here, is someone I met in Plurk, where I spend an alarming amount of time (and have the karma points to prove it). Last Thursday, I popped over to see her on the beach at Extropia. She showed me the car she was going to race at a Relay For Life event on the weekend. GoSpeed is a blogger, a much more active one than me, and she's involved in all kinds of SL events, so maybe I can liven up my own SL.

Oh, my closet is still a mess, but I did catch up with one thing: my Flickr site. I posted probably a couple dozen new pictures there, if you're interested. I also submitted a couple of shots to GoSpeed's Second Life Ebony group, which seem to have passed muster. I'm not nearly as ebony as some, but GoSpeed said that she's interested in a fairly wide range of non-white skin tones. There are some beautiful pictures in that group, and I'm happy to be a part of it now.

I'll try to find interesting stuff to write about, m'kay?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Party girl?

I met CodeBastard Redgrave through Twitter, but I've also gotten to know her a bit in Second Life. She is a sweet person and very generous. She is also talented. She created the Boudoir Rouge, a series of lingerie photographs of women in Second Life (including yours truly). She designed a device call the MachinimaCam for people to use to make SL films. She is very involved in SL, often as part of major events. In not much more than a year, Codie, as her friends call her, has made a solid reputation for herself in SL. She is a genuine celebrity.

Even though Codie has become larger than (Second) Life by this point, she still counts me as a friend. You know how people say, "Don't forget your friends when you get to the top?" Well, Codie doesn't forget her friends, and I appreciate that.

Yesterday, THE place to be in Second Life was the reopening of the Code Red Lounge, an all-day and all-night non-stop party. I was busy in first life for much of the day and evening, but later at night I went in world, put on a sexy red dress, red shoes, and my colourable full-body tattoo—coloured red, of course—and headed over to Code Red. I still have my VIP tag from the original lounge.

At 11 p.m. SL (Pacific) time, the place was packed. I've tried to show just how full the place was, but it was much more crowded than it looks in that photo. Considering that, the lag wasn't too bad, although as you can see from the grey people, my client and computer were not handling the situation in an optimal fashion. Still, I could dance. It was hard to talk to anyone, because there was so much going on. I could barely move from my spot without running into someone else, and I was kind of far away from people I might have chatted with. I did manage to say hi to Codie and to congratulate her. I said hi to my friend Jacek Antonelli, although I could barely see her. My dear friend Tatsuko Hayashida was there, and I could just about see her name tag. I said hi to new Twitter friend Gabby Panacek, a good friend of Codie, but I don't think she heard me. Or maybe I didn't hear her.

Want some name dropping? I saw designer Callie Cline, fashion maven Celebrity Trollop, and several well-known bloggers like Crap Mariner. If I'd paid closer attention and maybe moved around a bit more (my computer is lame so I don't have much distance resolution), I bet I could drop a few more names. When I was there, Eris Alexandre was streaming a kind of electro mix, and both the action and chat were going fast and furious.

A lot of people thrive in that kind of atmosphere. Me, not so much. I wanted to go for a while because Codie is my friend, but I'm not really so good at huge parties like that. It's easy for me to feel lost. I have a lot of friends in SL, but I'm not really "connected." And a lot of dance music just isn't my thing, at least not when I'm only virtually dancing (real dancing is another matter entirely). I'm glad the party was such a success for Codie, and it wasn't nearly over when I left (there were DJs on until 7 a.m.). I almost beamed over to my grungy indie-music home-away-from-home, the Velvet, where my favourite spider Lolotehe Menoptra was streaming, as an antidote to the bright red limelight, but it had been a long day in first life so I went off line.

Congratulations, Codie! I hope you have a blast with your new sim. I'll drop back in when things are less mad, because the sim is supposed to have some great builds on it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


It's only Second Life. It shouldn't hurt so much. But it does.

It's been a while since I've seen my love. She hasn't communicated. The last time we spoke, in IM and not even face to face, she was filled with doubts about us and our relationship—doubts that I don't have, doubts that I don't really understand. I did my best to put her mind at ease, but I don't think I succeeded.

She was the one who broke the ice a couple months ago, thus opening my life to a possibility that I had wanted ever since I first met her. So it was very much a mutual thing from the start. Having wanted to be with her for so long, I was primed to lose my heart to her rather quickly. Maybe too quickly. But I love who I love and it happens when it happens. I'm not sorry for that.

There might be all kinds of legitimate reasons that she hasn't been in touch. Drama belongs on stage, not in my life (OK, yes, I am blogging about this). I'm not going to draw conclusions based on an absence of evidence. We have had very good times together, and I hope there will be many more to come. I can't help that I love her. I hope I'm not just being a fool. I hope she's OK.

"I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay / Watching the tide roll away." Thank you, Otis Redding. I'll sit and wait and hope.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Welcome to de swamp!

My sweetie was in a meeting. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I got an IM from my friend Aki Clutterbuck asking if I wanted to come see her new store, Au Jus. Sure! I beamed over there to find her with our friend CodeBastard Redgrave, taking a tour of the shop.

(Yes, I know, I'm wearing the same clothes as I was wearing the day before at the Hell Bop Bar. What a faux pas!)

The house is really a Victorian mansion, and it's mostly empty at this point, except for one set of poses, but soon that will change. The house has some great features and nice detailing—and a tower room! As a kid, I always wanted a tower room.

Equally cool, literally, is the land surrounding the house. It's next to a small inlet that is below a cliff, so it already has the feel of a "holler." And to enhance that feel, Aki has put in plants such as mossy trees and ferns. It's so different from the typical tropical paradise or Japanese-themed parcels that are found all over Second Life, and I loved it.

There's an island out in the bay, and our friend Jacek Antonelli, inventor and lover of all things tentacled, seems to be setting up a new Cuddlefish Junction there. And there was a Bubble Ride thingie! I'd read about this and seen a machinima that Codie made of people floating in bubbles, but it's way more fun to use than to read about or even see a film of. Naturally, I took tons of pictures of my own, but I won't bore you with more than one. All I can say is, check it out and have fun!

I floated in my bubble all over Dynamism sim, which has the kind of topography that I like, very hilly with lots of water inlets. I'm afraid I was taking more pictures of me in the bubble than of the landscape.

Bubbles rides aren't all that Jacek has come up with. She recently made a sculpty octopus. I couldn't tell you what it's for, but it looks cool out there in the bay, grabbing onto what seems to be a lighthouse.

I'm not sure if the new Cuddlefish Junction is open yet, but I'm sure it will be soon. I don't know when Aki is opening Au Jus. But keep an eye out for it.